Mark Robinson and His Rivals, Part I

by | May 16, 2023 | Politics | 13 comments

“We don’t need the climate of hate that [he] is talking about. We don’t need the climate of hysteria and fear that [he] proposes.” Mark Robinson? No, I. Beverly Lake, a now-forgotten intellectual racist who confronted Terry Sanford in the 1960 primary for governor. Robinson is I. Beverly Lake’s political heir, and his election to the Executive Mansion would vindicate the bigotry that Lake attempted to foist upon state government as integration loomed ahead.

This may sound incendiary given that Robinson is Black, but the racial difference between yesterday’s segregationist and today’s gay-hater pales beside the two men’s deep similarities. In fact, Robinson recently declared the Civil Rights Movement an historical error that resulted in “so many freedoms” being “lost.” Robinson is the 21st-century culmination of 3.5-centuries’ trafficking in political hatred. And it’s a testament to the deep resilience of bigotry in our polity that a populist such as Robinson has a fairly solid chance of becoming governor.

The roots of Robinson’s candidacy run to the tainted origins of our state. Over its first two centuries, North Carolina evolved from a “society with slaves” to a slave society. By the eve of the Civil War, the state’s ruling Democratic Party based nearly its entire campaign message upon white racial supremacy. Racial hatred would form the underlying embers of the state’s heated politics until the present day. No issue, from women’s suffrage to welfare reform, would come to the fore without inspiring racial feeling.

Racism has, however, been stigmatized. Coded appeals around “voter fraud” and “school choice” remain widespread in North Carolina politics, but the outlet for raw cultural animus has shifted from race to LGBTQ identity. Enter Mark Robinson. A political novice with little to distinguish him on the merits, Robinson has built an avid following among Republicans by denigrating LGBTQ people as “filth.”

Robinson’s political career has played out at fundamentalist pulpits and other forums were hostility to LGBTQ people is endemic. He’s never flinched from his bigoted self-presentation. In fact, Robinson has long understood that a raw and inflammatory style has many adherents in North Carolina. The bigotry of right-wing evangelicals elected conservatives ranging from Furnifold Simmons (the “Great White Chieftain”) to Jesse Helms (“Senator No). North Carolina will tolerate far too much bigotry in its politics.

But this tolerance is not without limits. Returning to 1960, the nervous Robinson critic should note that I. Beverly Lake lost the primary to Terry Sanford. It was, to quote journalist John Drescher, “a triumph of good will,” and it inaugurated 50 years of progressive North Carolina governance. The stakes of next year’s gubernatorial election are the highest since Lake failed to build a wall of massive resistance around the state. Hope still flickers in a state that has seen its government take a savage reactionary turn.


  1. Silverwolf

    Our state does not need hate-mongers, gay-bashers, and racists, such as Robinson, in any leadership position in any local, state, or national office.

  2. ringlet86

    Ok so he appears to be good at his job. What is going to as Governor.

  3. cocodog

    Republicans are doing their best to model their candidates after this MAGA profile developed by Trump. They lose elections starting in 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2023 with no clue. Their hero, a twice impeached, indicted tax evader, sexual abuser, and liar remains their spiritual leader and main contender for their standard bearer in the upcoming presidential election. Folk’s author humorous essays (like “Trump Didn’t Take the Cookies. Nope. Never” by George Conway) mocking Trump’s deceptive and childish behavior in the classified documents investigation. Standup comics joke about Trump’s dyed orange hair and 12 lbs. of pancake makeup, comparing him to Bozo the Clown. Everything Trump touches goes bad, yet folks like Robinson try to outdo Trump by verbally attacking Jews who have honorably served this country throughout its history and women’s health care issues. These are the factors that lead Republicans to lose elections. Who was it that said, “you can’t fix stupid”?

    • cocodog

      I did not in any way intend to cast the character Bozo the Clown created by and portrayed by Pinto Colvig for a children’s storytelling in a bad light. If anything, Trump reflects poorly on a character who holds an honorable place in this countries entertainment history.

  4. Mike

    The last thing we need in NC is a black Trump. He even wears the fool’s uniform: big baggy blue suit that fails to hide his enormous girth, along with the white shirt and shiny red necktie. Does it reach down to his knees like Trumps’s?

    • ringlet86

      I always thought Trumps ties were short. Still point taken.

      All three branches in Republican hands. What will you do?

      The Republicans will restore their maps, and it is HIGHLY likely they will increase their seats in both houses.

      Full and complete MAGA control. The stuff of nightmares. Full abortion Ban, repeals on early voting, Constitutional carry of firearms. Full complete and total voucher system for public schools, Lower taxes, Less regulation, HB1 tossed, Repeal of Gay marriage God acknowledged in the legislature!

      A Hellscape of God fearing conservative leadership as far as the eye can see! All led by the Black Christian Trump (pointing out he is black is racist BTW there is no need of that)

      What will you do?

      • Mike

        Your feedback is very important to us. Oh wait, it’s not. Go eat shit and fuck yourself in no particular order.

        • ringlet86

          Why so angry?

  5. Melinda L. Baran

    Our current NC State Treasurer, the (truly) HONORABLE Dale Folwell, will easily defeat Mark Robinson in the Republican Primary election next year. Why? Because outraged and disgusted unaffiliated voters– like me– will take our visceral disgust with Robinson to the voting booth and cast POSITIVE votes for Treasurer Dale Folwell–a truly proven, experienced, brilliant, dedicated, hard-working and HONEST public servant who has earned our support and trust.

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